Brookfield in the 1700’s was an area of rich farm lands, forests filled with game, and streams abundant with fish. This area was called Newbury, a name derived from the 3 towns from which its land was taken (New Milford, Newtown, & Danbury). Here lived a hardy breed of people. They believed in hard work 6 days a week, & on the Sabbath they rested & attended worship, even though it meant an arduous 10 mile trip to either new Milford, Danbury, or Newtown.
Because of the hardship of traveling in winter, 1752 saw the introduction of winter church privileges. Worship was permitted in the homes from September through March. In 1754, the General Assembly finally granted the petition for the Parish of Newbury to build their own meeting house & call their own minister. On September 28, 1757, the first Congregational church building was dedicated, & the Reverend Thomas Brooks was ordained as the first settled minister. In 1778 the Town was incorporated; the name Newbury was changed to Brookfield in honor of the Reverend Thomas Brooks who was still the minister. The first town meeting was held on June 9, 1788.
As early as 1732, there was industry along the Still River in an area that became known as the Iron Works District. Found here were the furnaces for making iron, the ever important grist mills, sawmills, comb shops, carding & cotton mills, a paper mill, knife factory, hat factories, & others. Still standing today is the grist mill (now the Brookfield Craft Center) & the Iron Works Aqueduct Company. This company was formed in 1837 to supply water from the mountain springs to the Iron Works District & today it still supplies water to the area under the name of Brookfield Water company.
Indian trails were the first roads for travel. As the area became more populated, roads were laid out with wagons & stagecoaches the main means of transportation. Toll gates were used on some main roads to pay for the upkeep of the roads & salaries of the gatekeepers. The dividends went to the owners & stockholders of the roads. Travel was slow & it took 3 days to travel to Bridgeport, conduct business, & return home.
Before 1912 there were 2 train stations: 1) Iron Works District, located approximately where the Brookfield Market currently stands & was primarily a fright depot, and 2) Junction Station located near the corner of Junction Road & Stony Hill Road was Brookfield’s passenger station. The trains carried freight & visitors into & out of Brookfield. Young people in Brookfield traveled from the Junction Station daily to attend high school in Danbury.
The Brookfield Museum and its historical garden is located at the junction of routes 25 and 133. The Museum is open every Saturday and the first Sunday of each month between May and December. We will remain open on the second and fourth